Bedse caves near Pune is a tourist place very few people know. It is comparatively closer to Pune as well. The internet mentioned only a couple of Budhist caves there and nothing else. So on the morning of 24th July, Sunday, 2011, we started on our bikes thinking it will be just one of those short trips, just to break the monotony of the daily life. But when we reached there we found out internet barely did any justice to the place. And it became one of the best trips I have ever had.
Bedse Caves are about 45 Kilometers from Pune in Bedse Village and on the old Pune-Mumbai highway (National Highway 4). So after we started off from Wakad , we took the road to Nigdi and was soon on the NH4. It started raining after about 15 minutes on the highway and it made the journey interesting. We were hoping for rain and got loads of it. Had to stop quite a few times because of heavy rain but the scenic beauty on both sides of the roads was awesome so it was really enjoyable. Clouds hovering over distant hills are my all time favorites and we got plenty of it on the way to Bedse caves.
Going straight along the highway for around an hour or so we reached Kamshet chowk. We had to take a left from there and went under a metal arch. Road was bad from there and Bedse village is around 9 KM on the inside. On the way towards village the scenic beauty of the route was mind blowing. The hills had come down to the roads at some places and at some places it really felt like we were riding through the lap of nature. Rains kept the hills lush green and the waterfalls gushing. There is a ghat called Bore Ghat on the way to village which is one of the most beautiful ghats I have ever seen. The roadsides can be great picnic spots if one is interested.
After the sign of Bedse village, the village is another 1.5-2 KMS inside from the main road and you have to do some off-roading over there. Once we reached the village we parked our bikes outside a temple. The road towards the hill starts just to the right. There is no designated road from the temple to the foot of the village and sometimes non-existent. We had to walk through mud and water to reach the foot of the hill. There are farms on the both side of the muddy road. The view of the distance hills from here was quite breathtaking. The waterfalls coming down from the top of the hills makes one feel like running to that place.
After reaching the foot of the hill, there are well laid out stairs to the top making the climb quite easy. We were at the top in 20 minutes. However there are small waterfalls and lush greenery on both sides of the stairs (thanks to the rainy season) so we stopped and took in some of that beauty as well. I strongly suggest visiting Bedse Caves during the rainy season. Otherwise I am pretty sure you will miss at least 60% of its charm. The water is drinkable as well. These small waterfalls can be tracked back upwards to some extent as we did but the rocks being wet and slippery you have to be extremely careful.
There are two caves at the top. One is a ‘Chaitya’ or meditation room and the other is ‘Vihara’ or quarters of the Buddhist monks. The Chaitya has very close resemblance to the Buddhist architecture seen in Ajanta caves. The sculptural prowess is just as graceful and attention to minuscule details just as scrupulous. The cave and surroundings are litter free as not many tourists visit these Caves. The meditation room really calms the mind and makes one feel he is thousand miles away from civilization. If you really want to meditate, it is the place for it. Next to the ‘Chaitya’ is the ‘Vihara’. There are 9 small rooms 7 of which accommodate 2 persons each. It is almost unbelievable that people can stay in such places day in, day out only meditating and thinking of Lord Buddha. And it shows what the human mind and body can achieve once it has set its mind upon something.
There is a small ‘Stupa’ next to the ‘Chaitya’. Small statues and interesting carvings are visible in and around the meditation cave. They resemble the ‘Kinnar’ and ‘Gandharva’ statues of the Ellora caves in Aurangabad . However according to local legend, many of the carvings were destroyed due to human foolishness. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it-“Until around 1861 the caves were regularly maintained – even painted. These works were ordered by local authorities in order to please British officers who often visited caves. This has caused loss of the remnants of plaster with murals on it.”
The view of the valley from the top of the hill is breathtaking. The constant drizzle made it look even better. One can stand there for hours and feast his eyes on this splendid scenery. I was certainly feeling like going to the top of those hills and sitting there for hours. It reminded me that mother nature has given us so much to cherish but we spend our days running after goals that do not really matter, and leave a bad taste in our mouths even as we achieve them. Rain was coming down with full force by that time so we decided to delay our return. We went inside the small rooms of the Vihara and sat on the rocky beds that belonged to the people who created these caves from nothing many thousand years ago. We were lucky to feel a little of what they might have felt spending their time there on those stony beds, talking among themselves and listening to the rain drops outside.
On the way down we almost camped at a small waterfall. The water was fresh and warm, the force was strong and letting it flow over our legs was utterly satisfying. Not bringing extra clothes was lamented as we really wanted to roll into the flowing water. We spent considerable time there as our legs were pretty tired. Just sitting on the rocks and dipping our feet into the flowing water did wonders. I ventured a little upward to find the root of the stream, but thick foliage prevented my climb in short course. The rain had slowed down to a drizzle by that time and chirping of birds had started. The calmness,pleasure and relaxation almost hypnotized me. I started to feel if there was ever any nice way to die, it will be sitting here like this and slowly drifting of to that eternal sleep. Alas! all good things must come to an end and so was this beautiful trip was coming to. We started descending drenched on the outside but warm inside, tired but satisfied, hungry but calm. The descent was a little difficult as the stairs were slippery from constant water flow over them. But we were at the foot of the hill pretty quickly.
It would have been nice if our trip experiences ended there. But that day had something else to offer. On the way back through NH4 , to the right of the road there is a Ganapati temple made by the Birlas. We decided to pay a visit to that as well. The statue situated at the top of a small hill. Ganapati here is called ‘Mangalmurti Morya’. The statue is huge and the detailing are unbelievable. According to the notes there, the statue took 2 years to finish. As ‘9’ is considered lucky and auspicious number in Hindu Religion, the statue is 72 feet tall(7+2=9), the seat of the statue is 18 feet high(1+8=9) and the seat is 45 feet in width(4+5=9). It is a really nice place to spend your evening at. The unhindered 360 degree view of the city below is something to cherish as well. We spent around half an hour there before deciding it was really time to leave.
Evening fell as we rode into our places. It was time for a little snack and to start preparing for next day which was a Monday of course. But even as I got busy in my daily chores, I knew inside that, that day I saw a rare beauty of the nature that I will remember for a long time to come.